by Sudhit Rao
Water is an integral part of life on Earth and as global warming becomes more prominent, the Earth’s oceans are taking a huge hit. Studies conducted at the end of 2019 concluded that the oceans are now warmer than ever before. This could prove deadly to marine life which in turn would affect the marine ecosystem.
Scientists estimate that the ocean is about 0.075 degrees Celsius(~0.135 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the average ocean temperature from 1981 to 2010. Many might think that a 0.075-degree increase is negligible, especially over a couple of decades, but scientists conclude that this increase in temperature is similar to the heat of 5 atomic bombs expelled into the ocean every second. This can be accredited to the immense volume of the ocean, as the oceans combined have a volume of 1.35 billion cubic kilometers (~320 million cubic miles). To increase the temperature by a figure smaller than a tenth of a degree, it would take 228 sextillion Joules of heat. That is 228 followed by 21 zeros! The total number of Hiroshima explosions it would take to reach that number is 3.6 billion. To put that number in perspective, it would take 28,000 years for 7.1 billion people (the world’s population) to utter one sextillion words.
Ocean warming threatens the life of marine animals and has enormous impacts on the marine ecosystem. For example, coral reefs experience coral bleaching, where the corals expel the surrounding algae, causing the corals to turn white. This adds a lot of stress to the corals, which in turn increases the mortality rate. Other marine life such as fish, seabirds, and marine mammals experience mass migration due to the warm waters and their search for more favorable breeding areas.
The recent increase in the ocean’s temperature has been proven deadly to the environment and the lives of marine animals. The true scale to which the ocean has warmed up is immense and reversing this effect is key in saving marine life and the underwater ecosystem.